Young bluesman Oli Brown has earned a committed following among blues rock fans, with a mastery of electric and acoustic playing being crucial to his appeal. Collaborating with legends, and fronting two seperate outfits, RavenEye and Oli Brown Band has given him the wealth of experience necessary to maintaining a music career today. We spoke to Oli ahead of his Band on the Wall show in June with Oli Brown Band, to discuss some of his favourite blues music, working with great producers and his future plans.
With your electric band Raveneye having just opened for Blues Pills, is it important to continue playing the acoustic guitar, and having that variation for your creativity?
I think it’s important to always touch every musical aspect when possible. I love to play bass, drums, electric and acoustic guitar. I play some better than others… but it always pushes the mind to think differently, I’ve created songs entirely from a drum beat I wanted or a bass riff. Acoustic can really lead a song into a different path which is great when I feel like I’ve pushed too hard down the electric route, it brings back a reality and honesty to the music, you can’t hide behind fuzz and loud riffs when an acoustic is in front of you. I like that isolation, it makes me think beyond myself.
Do you feel as a listener you connect more with the earlier Delta bluesmen, or the guys who were active in the ‘60s like Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters and Taj Mahal, approaching an electric era?
For me I connected more with the electric era like in the 60s. I was turned onto them as I grew up, I also have had the chance to see some of them play live such as Taj Mahal and Buddy Guy. Musicians I played with all were pushing these artists onto me. It wasn’t until later I started exploring deeper into the roots of Blues music.
Has working with a producer like Mike Vernon changed your approach in the studio? Was he an advocate of the older recording techniques and equipment or did you record with him in a modern way?
Mike was incredibly accommodating with me; I think naturally he brings that vintage sound with him, he worked with the studios sound, equipment but kept the recording process very organic. There weren’t many takes with the idea of capturing moments instead of wrapping up about getting something perfect. I loved that about going into the studio with him. He’s an incredible producer.
With so many accolades and awards already, while you’re still quite early in your career, how do you plan to continue impressing as you move forward?
My plan is to continue to work with what I believe in and write what I want to write, it’s not a concern to worry about continuing impressing. I didn’t start music to worry about accolades, I wanted to tour, to write and to express myself the only way I feel I truly can, in music. The accolades are greatly appreciated, but if that was my main focus I’d feel like my head is in the wrong space, it should never be about gratitude from others, just write and get out there.